Why should you learn time management?
Secular coaches will tell you that learning time management will help you reduce stress, stop being lazy, expand your opportunities, give you more success in career and free up more time for relaxation and fun.
For a Muslim, these are great reasons, but nevertheless, they are all secondary reasons.
The primary reason a Muslim must manage his time is because he wants success in the Hereafter. One who truly believes knows that what’s at stake isn’t just career or money.
The purpose of time management is to effectively channel time into doing things that take us closer to our goals.
For a believer, the ultimate goal is to become the inheritors of Jannatul Firdaus, the highest level of Paradise. All subsequent goals are means that take us closer to that ultimate goal.
The Quran is full of lessons on how we should manage our time in this world. Here are some of the lessons found in chapter Al-Mu’minun.
1. Salah – the Foundation of Time Management
Chapter Al-Mu’minun begins by listing the qualities of a true believer. Interestingly, the list begins and ends with salah, with the remaining qualities sandwiched in between. Verse 2 mentions the quality of having khushu’ (humility and submissiveness) in prayer. Verse 9 talks about being “hafidh” of your prayers, which means performing the prayers within their set time limits.
A true believer prays five times every day, no matter where he is or in what condition. Even if he is lying semi-paralyzed in the ICU or is being chased by a bloodthirsty hyena, if he is sane and able to move his head, he has to perform all five prayers within their fixed time limits. They are like pillars around which he should arrange the rest of his life.
The five prayers are immensely necessary to maintain our spiritual health and mental health. If performed properly with khushu’, they help us reset the mind into its natural state of submission to Allah, peacefulness and humility, at regular intervals throughout the day.
They allow us, every few hours, to refocus on our goals (see point 2 below) and flush the sins and the unnecessary stress that we tend to accumulate during our busy day.
Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned? (23: 115)
Success and failure are measured by the scale that will weigh our deeds on the Day of Judgment. That measurement will decide whether we reach Paradise or not.
So keep the scale in mind when setting your goals.
3. Sense of Urgency
We only have a limited amount of time in this world, and, compared to the grand scale of things, this time is really very short.
Allah gives us examples in this chapter of people and even entire nations that were destroyed for their disbelief, arrogance and denial of resurrection. When asked on the Day of Judgment about how much time they had stayed on Earth, they will answer:
A day or part of a day (23:112-3).
At the time of death, the disbeliever requests Allah for a second chance, to make better use of their time on Earth. But their time is over, and they won’t get any extra.
The believers, on the other hand, are one step ahead. They firmly believe in accountability in the Hereafter. So they race towards doing good deeds, trying to outstrip everyone else.
4. Avoiding Time-Wasters
Continuing from point 3 above, the believers’ sense of urgency compels them to avoid things that waste time. They are portrayed in this chapter as spending time in things that matter, such as praying and giving charity.
They are also described as staying away from things that take them farther away from their goals, such as committing fornication and engaging in laghw. Laghw refers to acts of shirk, sins, and any action or speech that doesn’t bring any benefit. (Ibn Kathir)
On the other hand, disbelievers spend their time in doing evil deeds. A good portion of their time goes towards making fun of others. They are shown as having spent the evening making fun. (23:67)
Success in the Hereafter belongs to the believers who avoid sinful and useless activities.
5. Understanding the Concept of Barakah
What is rain? Plain H2O. And it causes millions of species of plants to spring up all over the earth, from which we get all kinds of fruits, flowers, grains and medicines. That’s why the rain is called ‘mubarak’, full of barakah.
Your time can also become full of barakah (blessing). Remember that Allah owns time (23:80), and He can extend or constrict if for you as He chooses. To make your time Mubarak (blessed), obey the One who controls it.